What Makes a Piece Postmodern?

Postmodernism, ranging from 1965 to today, is rooted in the basic idea that nothing is original and there is no such thing as a 100% original work of literature. Kind of depressing, but postmodernism writers have fun with it, often experimenting with different surreal and abstract elements. They challenge what is “traditional” and are often rebellious in their works. While postmodern works are typically all over the place in terms of content (they have a very “everything goes” mantra), they often play with certain themes, usually centered around “what is reality vs what is fairytale.” Some more specifics include:

  1. Irony and Black Humor — postmodern writers often write about serious topics, but with a sense of dark and ironic humor, usually from a disconnected or displaced perspective.
  2. Pastiche — this goes with the “nothing is original” catchphrase of the era. Authors will often “copy and paste” pieces of other’s work into their writing to help form their own distinct style.
  3. Temporal distortion — a literary technique that uses a nonlinear timeline, very popular among postmodern writers
  4. Paranoia — Postmodern writers often dealt with the idea of paranoia, which can be seen in many of their characters and themes. The high interest in paranoia was most likely a result of the rise of technology and the Cold War era
  5. Magical realism — the introduction of magical elements into a plot that is otherwise normal. Can include dreams while being awake, overly complicated plots, fairy tales and myths becoming true in a story, wild shifts in time, etc.

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